SUGAR TREE, TENNESSEE – Greetings from somewhere in central Tennessee…
Four weeks ago, we left quarantine in South Florida with an old pop-up tent, a cooler, a camping stove, and some sleeping bags. We’re exploring America and learning as much as we can from the people we meet along the way…
So far, we’ve crossed Florida, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. We’re in Tennessee now. Next stop, Kentucky. From there, we’re going to keep heading north until we get to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Then we’ll head west…
We’re using a pop-up camper for our accommodation. Unlike many of the other RVs we see in the campgrounds, we have no A/C, no kitchen, no bathroom, and no refrigerator. So we’re basically tent camping.
Our hosts today are Michael and April. They live in the hills above the Tennessee River and invited us to camp in their driveway.
I’m writing this message to you from my desk in the garage. Here I am. And below, Kate and the kids do their schoolwork inside…
Writing this Postcard in Michael and April’s garage
Kate, Penny, Miles, and Dusty doing schoolwork
“I’ve owned about 15 businesses in my life,” says Michael. “I failed at about three of them. I opened a video movie store before anyone really knew what they were. In the beginning I even rented VCRs. They were expensive and people didn’t own them. They’d call us when they got home, and we had to explain how to hook them up.
“When I first rented tapes it was actually illegal to rent them. Disney actually prosecuted people for renting out movies. But then they saw there was an opportunity to license their movies for video rentals.
“In the end, I owned about a dozen stores. It was a business I thought I’d have forever. I never dreamed people could have the exact movie they wanted beamed to their houses. It seemed impossible at the time, but that’s exactly what happened, and I went out of business.
“After that, I wrote software for car dealerships. I published a health and fitness magazine. I ran a marina on the river with an RV park and a restaurant. This business had the longest hours ever. There was constant maintenance of the electrical and sewer systems. Everything you own is on water and water is the enemy of everything. I did well. It was a good business. But I’m 71 and my wife was begging me to get out. So I sold it. But I don’t think I’ll ever stop working…”
April and Michael
– Tom Dyson
P.S. We saw our first freight train today! We always look out for trains and when we see them, we always pull over to watch them go past…
P.P.S. We received dozens of kind invitations from readers offering us a spot to park our little camper for the night. THANK YOU! Kate and I are very, very grateful for the invitations. We will try to visit as many of you as we can along our way. If we don’t make it to visit you, thank you regardless and apologies in advance we weren’t able to make it this time. (I’ve published a sample of them below.)
Readers blew us away with their generosity after Tom shared Sherry’s story last week…
Reader comment: It’s difficult to read about some folks’ troubles that seem to take it in stride… life can be tough, at best, and now even more so… challenging. I don’t have much but I wouldn’t mind sharing and helping out people like Sherry who most likely needs a couple of bucks to help her through this patch. Don’t know how you can connect us, but if you can pass my email on to her… Thanks and safe travels to you and your family. Stay safe.
Reader comment: Is there a way to get some money to Sherry (in North Carolina) without violating her privacy? I only began trading this past January. Started with $12,500. But Legacy Research has helped me earn a few thousand each month while still growing my portfolio. My son’s in the same situation as Sherry. I’ve helped him out and would love to pass a $1,000 on to Sherry. Sincerely and gratefully.
Reader comment: You might consider having a “donate” button for folks who’d send Sherry and others like her a few bucks to help her out during hard times.
Tom’s response: Amazing! I passed on this news to Sherry and she was totally blown away that anyone would want to send her money… and very grateful. I’ve asked Sherry to set up a GoFundMe account. I’ll pass it along as soon as I hear back from her.
Others offer kind words – and a place to stay – for the Dyson family…
Reader comment: Your travels with your family have been interesting to say the least. You are learning that there is another part of this nation which is not often heard from. Many live their lives with little fanfare. I have lived through being laid off, so I really know what a crisis looks like. Smart, resourceful, and independent, I did what I could to survive. I didn’t steal or beg in the streets for anything. I took action and helped myself.
Reader comment: We have a 160-acre parcel west of Red Deer, Alberta near Rocky Mountain House that has a log cabin on it built by family and lots of room for camping. It has a year round spring and there is power. No cell coverage, but if you drive a half-mile to the top of the hill there is cell coverage. We get a kick out of watching the teenagers in our family do the trek to stay in touch on their phones. We would be happy to host you on your travels. I believe you will need to travel through Alberta and probably want to stop in Medicine Hat again, but just want to put it out there for you.
Reader comment: Feel free to come see us and camp at our place in Tallahassee, FL if and when you are coming through. I am married with five kids, whom we homeschool. We live on 19 acres and have space for you.
Reader comment: Your Postcards about your travels and family are a must-read before all else and, of course, I read Bill Bonner next. Reading about your life challenges and trials resonates with many of us. To varying degrees many of us have faced serious life challenges and have at times felt as you have in the past. Many of us also long for the freedom that you have been able to achieve. You deserve much credit for making it happen. Family, lifestyle, and so forth.
Reader comment: If you are headed into Michigan, we reside in Grand Rapids and you are more than welcome to stay at our place. It isn’t a rural setup as we live in a condo, but you would be able to stay out back with your camper for free. It’s a large parking lot and we could supply some food and drink. Anyway, I thought I would offer your family a place to stop if you are up this way. Take care and enjoy being nomads.
Reader comment: I enjoy reading about your daily adventures, and have followed your investment writings for several years now. I am glad your family is back together once again. We also homeschool our two boys. If you are traveling through Illinois, we live outside of Dixon, and you would be welcome to park your camper in our yard. We have access to an 88-acre lake if your kids would like to go fishing.
Reader comment: Reading your posts every day. At first, I read them because they came into my email. Now, I am thoroughly enjoying them and the best part is hearing about the children. This life is awesome for your children. I am a Christian and praise God that you and Kate have reconciled, and found your love and commitment to one another and your family. Your children are living the best life. We live in Scottsdale, AZ and oh my, the entitled life is all around us. We stay grounded as best as we can, yet it takes a commitment to thought and actions. We love the beauty here and I love the memories of my home. Hard for me to let it go. A part of me longs for your adventure.
So, if you happen to take the southern route through the southwest, feel free to reach out and stop for an evening or two. Yes, I live in an HOA neighborhood so not sure you can pop your camper up. Maybe we can slip you into the backyard. We have bedrooms so you could enjoy a bed if you so desire. Be safe and enjoy this beautiful country God has gifted us.
Tom’s note: Thanks again for all the kind invitations! Please don’t stop writing us at [email protected]. Kate and I read every note you send us.